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One of the nation's largest black church groups tries to begin restoring its image this week when it replaces a former leader now in prison for using his position to steal money and finance a lavish lifestyle.

Eleven candidates are vying for the presidency of the National Baptist Convention USA during the group's annual meeting that starts Tuesday in Tampa.

Members will vote to replace the Rev. Henry Lyons, who is serving 5 1/2 years in state prison on racketeering and grand theft convictions. He also pleaded guilty to federal charges of tax evasion and fraud and was sentenced to a concurrent 4 1/4 -year term.

Group leaders hope this year's meeting will help unite members of the 119-year-old organization, which has experienced contentious battles for power.

Convention leaders expect the meeting to draw about 60,000 people to the Ice Palace Arena -- many of whom will be attracted by Thursday's scheduled election.

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